Hyperion Records

Visions fugitives, Op 22
composer
1915/7

Recordings
'Musorgsky: Pictures from an Exhibition; Prokofiev: Visions fugitives & Sarcasms' (CDA67896)
Musorgsky: Pictures from an Exhibition; Prokofiev: Visions fugitives & Sarcasms
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Details
No 01: Lentamente
No 02: Andante
No 03: Allegretto
No 04: Animato
No 05: Molto giocoso
No 06: Con eleganza
No 07: Pittoresco
No 08: Comodo
No 09: Allegretto tranquillo
No 10: Ridicolosamente
No 11: Con vivacitÓ
No 12: Assai moderato
No 13: Allegretto
No 14: Feroce
No 15: Inquieto
No 16: Dolente
No 17: Poetico
No 18: Con una dolce lentezza
No 19: Presto agitatissimo e molto accentuato
No 20: Lento

Visions fugitives, Op 22
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For composers from Schubert to the present day the attractions of the piano miniature have been broadly similar. It has a better-than-average chance of being taken up by young or amateur players; it therefore stands a better-than-average chance of being published; for the composer-performer it fits snugly into recital programmes, where it may serve as an advertisement for and introduction to other compositions; and it may provide a useful testing-ground for compositional ideas, prior to their potential deployment in more demanding large-scale forms.

In their various contrasting ways, the twenty miniatures that make up Prokofiev’s Visions fugitives display all those qualities, and they have always been among the most popular of his piano pieces. The title of the collection is a poetic rendering of the Russian Mimolyotnosti (literally ‘things flying past’, or more pretentiously ‘transiences’) from the poem ‘I do not know wisdom’ by the symbolist Konstantin Balmont. Taking his cue from the lines ‘In every fugitive vision / I see whole worlds: / They change endlessly, / Flashing in playful rainbow colours’, Prokofiev supplies snapshots of his most characteristic moods—sometimes grotesque, sometimes incantatory and mystical, sometimes simply poetic, sometimes aggressively assertive, sometimes so delicately poised as to allow the performer and the listener to make up their own minds.

The Visions were assembled between 1915 and 1917. In his 1941 autobiography Prokofiev claimed that No 19 reflected the excitement of the crowds at the time of the February 1917 Revolution (which deposed the tsar—the more famous ‘October’ Revolution, establishing Bolshevik rule, followed later the same year). But that claim may be a case of self-reinvention aimed at a Soviet readership. Without that information, the same could as easily be said of Nos 4, 14 and 15. In 1935 Prokofiev made recordings of ten pieces from the set, and his playing is notable for its wistfulness, subtle shadings and—in places—rhythmic freedom. Even the clowning of the Ridicolosamente No 10 is rather shy in Prokofiev’s hands, and the delicacy he brings to the following piece brings out its affinities with Debussy’s Minstrels.

from notes by David Fanning ę 2013

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Details for CDA67896 track 32
Con vivacitÓ
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-12-89632
Duration
1'08
Recording date
20 December 2011
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
David Hinitt
Hyperion usage
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